PANAMA heads for the skies.

Author:Calderon, Pilar

The gateway to more than 80 destinations in the Americas and Europe, Panama City's Tocumen International Airport is in an expansion fever that will soon allow the facilities to service flights to Asia. With an investment of $800 million, the master plan is closing in on its goal to expand capacity to 25 million passengers per year by 2025.

The new terminal (T2) will open for business in October and will be connected with the existing terminal (T1) to consolidate Tocumen as the hub of the Americas. T2 will have 20 new boarding platforms and new systems A for fueling and managing baggage. More than 7,200 suitcases per hour will be transported between the two terminals.

"The construction of the new Tocumen International Airport terminal is vital for diversification of the nation's economy, and for encouraging economic growth and competitiveness," said Carlos Duboy, the airport's General Manager.

In addition to the new terminal, the Multi-Modal Cargo Logistics Zone is being built with an initial investment of $11.7 million. It is designed to serve as an import, export, and in-transit port for high-value and perishable merchandise that must be moved as rapidly as possible.

This will make it possible to develop value-added chains between maritime and air transport. "The companies that set up in this zone, which is located in the airport's cargo terminal, will enjoy tax, labor, and immigration benefits," said Duboy.


For Copa, Panama's flagship airline, the expansion of Tocumen no doubt represents a great opportunity.

Getting in sync with the efforts to consolidate the country as the logistics hub of the Americas, the airline will incorporate in 2018 six new aircraft--five 71 737 MAX and one Embraer--with an investment of more than $500 million.

Copa will also create 800 new jobs, open three new destinations Salvador de Bahia and Fortaleza in Brazil, and Barbados--and increase frequency to other existing destinations.

"With a bigger, more modern and more efficient fleet, in 2018 we will consolidate and strengthen the growth we posted in 2017," said Copa's executive president, Pedro Heilbron.

The network of routes will connect to 78 destinations in 32 countries, he added. In 2017 the airline carried more than 13.5 million passengers, 7.1% more than in 2016. This year the number is expected to rise to 14.4 million. Copa will close 2018 with a fleet of 106 aircraft and will aim for a growth rate higher than the 9% rate achieved last year.


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